Barzel speaking at a 1969 CDU conference
|Federal Minister of All-German Affairs|
14 December 1962 – 11 October 1963
|Preceded by||Ernst Lemmer|
|Succeeded by||Erich Mende|
|Federal Minister of Intra-German Relations|
4 October 1982 – 29 March 1983
|Preceded by||Egon Franke|
|Succeeded by||Heinrich Windelen|
|President of the Bundestag|
29 March 1983 – 25 October 1984
|Preceded by||Richard Stücklen|
|Succeeded by||Philipp Jenninger|
|Born||Rainer Candidus Barzel
20 June 1924
Braunsberg, East Prussia
|Died||26 August 2006
|Spouse(s)||Kriemhild (m. 1948 – d. 1980)
Helga (m. 1983 – d. 1995)
Ute (m. 1997 – 2006)
|Alma mater||University of Cologne|
Life and career
Born in Braunsberg, East Prussia (present-day Braniewo, Poland), Barzel served as Chairman of the CDU from 1971 to 1973 and ran as the CDU's candidate for Chancellor of Germany in the 1972 federal elections, losing to Willy Brandt's SPD.
The 1972 election is commonly regarded as an indirect referendum on Chancellor Brandt's Ostpolitik (Eastern Policy), which called for normalized relations with East Germany and the Soviet Union, which Barzel vehemently opposed. On 27 April 1972 Barzel and the CDU/CSU called a constructive vote of no confidence against Brandt's government. Had the motion carried, Barzel would have succeeded Brandt as Chancellor of Germany. The implications of this vote were far-reaching. Brandt's initial reaction was that he, along with his policy of Ostpolitik, was finished. Several German trade unions went on strike in anticipation of his loss in the no confidence motion. However, the final tally received 247 votes; 249 were needed to expel Brandt from office. Later, it was found out that two members of Parliament, Julius Steiner (CDU) and Leo Wagner (CSU) had been bribed by the East German Ministry for State Security.
The government, in consideration of the fact that it had lost its parliamentary majority and that parliamentary work was stalled, reacted by calling new elections, which it won decisively. 1972 was the only time before 1998 and after World War II that the SPD outpolled the CDU, and it still represents the SPD's high-water mark as a vote share. That year's elections had the highest turnout ever.
Within the CDU group of the German parliament, Barzel's credibility suffered when it became apparent that he had lied about substantial outside income from work as a lawyer outside parliament.
Barzel served as Minister of All-German Affairs (1962–63) under Konrad Adenauer, as Parliamentary group leader of the CDU/CSU (1964–1973), as Minister of Intra-German Relations (1982–1983) in Helmut Kohl's cabinet, and as President of the Bundestag (1983–1984).
It was neither the lost no-confidence motion nor the lost parliamentary elections that, on 8 May 1973, eventually prompted Barzel to resign from both the CDU party chair and the leadership of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. It was the refusal by the parliamentary group to support a government bill for the accession of both German states to the United Nations.
He resigned from politics in 1984 after he was accused of being entangled in the Flick scandal, a charge rejected by the Flick inquiry committee and the prosecuting authorities two years later.
- Gesichtspunkte eines Deutschen. Düsseldorf, Econ 1968
- Unterwegs – Woher und wohin? München, Droemer Knaur 1982
- Im Streit und umstritten. Anmerkungen zu Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig Erhard und den Ostverträgen. Berlin, Ullstein 1986
- Geschichten aus der Politik. Persönliches aus meinem Archiv. Berlin, Ullstein 1987
- Die Tür blieb offen – Ostverträge-Misstrauensvotum-Kanzlersturz. Bonn, Bouvier 1998, ISBN 3-416-02836-8
- Ein gewagtes Leben. Stuttgart, Hohenheim 2001, ISBN 3-89850-041-1
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